FaNCiful Analysis: Goin' for Broke at NC Pembroke

We’re back for part 3 of FaNCiful Analysis, recapping the action at FNC Asheville and giving a preview of the fun starting tomorrow at FNC Pembroke!


NC’s strongest district event just finished with 32 teams converging on beautiful Asheville. Only one event remains this week at UNC Pembroke, where 36 teams will battle it out for a shrinking number of spots on the DCMP bubble. At Asheville, rankings started out with complete unpredictability before settling out with some order. The two fastest-cycling consistent climbs took the top two seeds with 5190 Green Hope and their buttery smooth two-hatch quintic hermite spline sandstorm auto and 3196 with their fast teleop ball cycles.

The rest of the top rankings were scattered between the fastest cyclers and most consistent climbs, with 4828 improving their climb and adding a 7671 inspired cargo bucket, 4561 adding level 3 capabilities from Wake, and 3229 improving upon their cycle times. 6502 also improved drastically from Wake to Asheville, adding consistent sandstorm capabilities and cycling cargo much faster. 1533 again started slow out of the gate with a new, more robust cargo intake, but showed why they are one of the top teams in the state by completing the first full rocket in North Carolina with 3506 and 2655.

Cards and fouls flew at this event in a way reminiscent of 2014, with multiple G20 infractions on teams for deliberate contact of each other inside their frame perimeter. When the dust settled after qualifications, eliminations proceeded in a fairly predictable way. The 1st seed of 5190 picked up 2655 and 2640 and the 2nd seed of 3196 reached outside of top 8 to pick up 1533 and 6894. These two teams met in the finals and the top seed took the win in three matches, only losing the first to a yellow G20 escalated to a red. Congratulations to both these alliances, as 2655 picks up their second blue banner in as many weeks and 5190 extends their streak of at least making Finals in NC to an impressive five events!

A strong congratulations also to 4561 TerrorBytes, who won Chairman’s for the first time, 5854 Glitch for three-peating Engineering Inspiration at Asheville, and 7443 Overhills Jag-wires for winning Rookie All-Star!

Takeaways and Observations

  • History might not repeat, but it does rhyme. At Guilford last week, we saw the 1st seed and best cycler pick 2655 and win the event over the 2nd seed picking 1533 in finals. In addition, we saw only one upset in both eliminations, with the 6 seed beating the 3 seed. 3506, after realizing they could climb up 4935’s ramps, stuck with it at this event, joining a very similar alliance with 6502 DARCSide instead of 5544 SWIFT, and made semifinals.
  • Design convergence is happening … around 7671 Fire Hazard! They made a splash at Wake County by ranking 3rd with their pneumatically actuated bucket dumpers, and there were no fewer than three bucket bot lookalikes at Asheville.
  • Climb percentages are still increasing, including level 2, while rocket RPs are remaining slim to none. There are still more successful level 3 climbers than level 2, but the increased percentage of those at DCMP will be good for teams like 4534, 7890, and 2655, who are held back in the rankings without those extra RPs.
  • Use those orange POE cables in the kit of parts, folks! Lots of teams were not moving at this event for parts of matches, and having redundant power from the 12V/2A ports on your VRM to both the barrel jack and POE is the single best thing you can do to stop it. This also makes driving off of level 2 for 3 free points each match much less scary. Alliance partners, help your teammates get them before matches!
  • Defense is still getting better and teams are still adapting to that. Teams without gameplans for playing against defense are going to struggle. If you have two offensive robots and one defensive robot on your side, there are very few reasons both offensive robots should be on the same side of the field. Defenders, consider carefully who you defend and when. The fastest cycler might not be the team you can deny the most points from. Knowing how long teams take to climb and not letting them get set up with enough time left is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. It will be exciting to see these metas evolve going into DCMP.

FNC Pembroke Preview

Although Pembroke does not have the level of top teams that Asheville had, expect to see a very competitive event. Without a meaningful percentage of rocket RPs, climbing will be the name of the game in qualifications. While Asheville had 7 teams who had successfully climbed level 3 coming in, there are only two here, 5511 and 4795. The major unknowns coming into this event for determining the winners are how much faster 5511 and 4795 can make their cycles, and which teams will get their level 3 climber working and how fast.

Note: These teams are listed in order of likelihood to win the event, not by projected ranking.


5511: Cortechs won the first NC event in Wake County because they were the only team with a climb working out of the gate, along with their decent hatch cycling. If that is improved and they have added cargo capabilities, they will be a favorite to win this event.

4795: The Eastbots right now are the only team at this event to be able to score cargo, hatches, and climb to level 3. They will need to speed up cargo and especially hatches if they want to take this event, because the other teams, especially those we haven’t seen in 3 weeks, will be a lot better. 4795 and 5511 are nearly indistinguishable on paper, and if these two are the only climbers, it will just come down to who can cycle faster and win more matches.

2642: The Pitt Pirates are the biggest unknown coming into this event. They ranked low at their last event but by the end were cycling hatches and cargo to the cargo ship and all levels of the rocket. If they can get consistency and speed especially on hatches and can climb to the third level in most of their matches, they have a great shot at winning the event.

Strong Contenders

4534 is wired to succeed as they come into the event as the fastest cycler and with decent level 2 HAB capabilities. If they continue to improve that they could very well fill a 2655-like role, where they score the most points per match despite not climbing to level 3, and taking the first pick of the #1 or #2 seeds.

5544: This team is another swift two game-element cycler, but they’ll need to take it up a notch to compete with 4534 and 2642, especially without the ability to climb to level 2.

Past this list there’s a very deep field who can do well enough to make a deep playoff run and qualify for DCMP, especially with multiple weeks to iterate. 2682 is fast and getting faster, and 4829 and 3737 both fall into the niche of fast rocket hatch-only bots without a working climb. That’s a tough place to be in the current NC meta, without many ball teams who can fill up the rocket and with rocket hatches only not scoring enough points to win many games. Both teams have the mechanisms for a level 3 climb, but it remains to be seen who will end up them working.

There’s also a very strong rookie class here, as two of the highest rookie seed winners from the three previous events are all in attendance: 7671, and 7890. 7890 currently looks stronger rank-wise with a working level 2 climb and functional but unpracticed rocket capabilities, but 7671 is going to be turning the heat up in quals too.

District Champs Forecast

This is the last event before district champs, and it’s looking like the cutoff is going to be in the 56-62 range. There are currently 20 teams who are just about guaranteed to be above that cutoff and 4 more who are very likely to hit it at Pembroke. This leaves just 8 more slots on the bubble for 28 teams fighting it out this weekend. It will be a competitive and exciting event.

Hot Takes

Before we get to this week’s Hot Takes, how did we do last week? (Hint: Not well)

  • Not-so-hot take: No team will go undefeated - Correct: although 2655 gave it their best effort, they lost twice to 1533, going 17-2-0 overall.
  • Lukewarm take: 8 or more teams will climb level 3 (or be used as ramps) in qualifications - Correct: 10 teams climbed at least once or were used by ramps
  • Hot take: The 1st seed will not win the event - We can splash this prediction in cold water as #1 seed 5190 made a nearly undefeated run through eliminations to win the event.
  • Boiling hot take: There will be more than one rocket completed - Incorrect. There was one complete rocket, done by 1533, 3506, and 2655. Congrats to these teams! Unfortunately, it was the only rocket
  • Carolina Reaper take: All teams will be inspected by start of play (pretty please?) - So close. Hopefully this week?

Last week’s total: 2/5

Overall: 5/9

Due to last week’s poor predictions, FaNCiful Analysis is now a pepper-themed basketball predictions account.

  • Bell Pepper take: At least one ACC team will make the Final Four (4795 or 5511 will win the event)

  • Banana Pepper takes: The sum of seeds in the Final Four will be greater than 7 (Eliminations at Pembroke will proceed in chalk fashion)

  • Jalapeño take: Only one of UNC and Duke will make the Final Four (Four teams will climb or be used as ramps at this event)

  • Habañero take: Florida State will beat Gonzaga (Two rookie teams will be alliance captains)

  • Carolina Reaper take: Auburn will make the Final Four (There will be no replays due to WiFi issues)


Technically we got the first climb at the Wake event… That being said, their climb was much more consistent.


The number of yellow cards at Asheville was astounding. With the sound not being fed right on the livestream, many of us watching at home didn’t know why many of those were issued until we read about it later, especially the G20 yellow card that elevated to a red card in the F1 match. That was a real shocker, given that the #1 alliance had otherwise won the match hands down.

Design convergence is happening … around 7671 Fire Hazard! They made a splash at Wake County by ranking 3rd with their pneumatically actuated bucket dumpers, and there were no fewer than three bucket bot lookalikes at Asheville.

This seems to have surprised a lot of people, but it should have been a predicted outcome of Wake and Guilford, where buckets did well. My particular favorite from this event was 1225, who had a complex arm mechanism at Guilford and ditched it for a much simpler bucket mechanism at Asheville, to their advantage. It just goes to show that simplicity and focused design isn’t a bad thing.

For this week’s takes: I’m hoping that your Banana Pepper take is right after the problems at Guilford. I’m betting that your Jalapeño take is wrong (I expect there will be more than four teams with a successful climb, including my own.) And, of course, we’re all hoping that your Carolina Reaper take is spot on.

Thanks for all the great analysis, it’s a real service to the NC FIRST community.

Definitely keeping an eye out for 5511 after their fantastic performance at Wake County :eyes:


Though we didn’t perform as well as hoped in Guilford, 6004 is looking really fantastic after testing was completed this week. The Fox Tail is coming for ya’ll.


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